6 Sept 2016

Fowler insists: Liverpool need to replace Firmino with 'exceptional' £30m goal-machine because he's better up-front

Who is Liverpool's best option at centre-forward? Roberto Firmino appears to be Jurgen Klopp's preferred choice, but according to Reds legend Robbie Fowler, Klopp is wrong to play the Brazilian ahead of Sturridge.

Fowler attended an EA Sports FIFA '17 event on Monday, and when asked who should play up-front for Liverpool, he insisted:

"I would go for Sturridge. Firmino is a very good player, but Sturridge is exceptional".

Sturridge's creative record for Liverpool is absolutely superb, so this is an absolute no-brainer:

* If he's fit, Sturridge should start as a central striker in every single league game (i.e. play once a week).

* Let Firmino, Origi, and Ings start domestic cup games, and leave Sturridge on the bench, or out of the match-day squad (for rest/recovery purposes).

Yes, Sturridge is injury prone, but looking through his appearance history, it's clear that Liverpool (specifically, Brendan Rodgers), overplayed him, and consequently contributed to injury recurrences. Examples:

* Jul 2014: Injured after 3 games in 6 days.

* Sep 2014: Injured after 3 games in 9 days.

* Apr 2014: Injured and out for the season after 12 games in 56 days (i.e. one every 4.6 days).

* Oct 2015: Injured after 2 games in 8 days.

* Dec 2015: Injured after 3 games in 7 days.

After the December injury, Klopp effectively managed Sturridge's fitness by rarely playing him in full games more than once a week, and/or reducing his game time (through subbing off early).

It's simple: play Sturridge in more than one game every 7 days, and he'll probably get injured. Play him once a week, with 6-7 days recovery time, and the chances of injury are significantly reduced.

Liverpool's only goal this season is to qualify for the Champions League, and with one league game per week, there's arguably no excuse to ignore Sturridge for the striker role (if he's fit).

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